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Sisters Helping Sisters: A New Lupus Research Study to Follow Sisters of Lupus Patients
Date:3/29/2010

Click this link.">Dr. Diamond, a world-renowned lupus research and director of the Center for Autoimmune and Musculoskeletal Disorders, is teaming up with geneticist Peter K. Gregersen, MD, who is director of the Robert S. Boas Center for Genomics and Human Genetics. They want to understand how people progress from the start of the autoimmune process to end up with severe disability. What scientists know about the epidemiology of the illness is this: If they follow 4,000 sisters with a sibling with lupus that 80 of them will develop the autoimmune disease at some point in their lives. They also know that some sisters with anti-DNA antibody in their blood will never get lupus. The question is why. Ultimately they want to figure out who those people are and whether the auto-antibodies in their blood can reveal something about why they got sick or not. Then, what if they can begin treating people at risk for lupus before the disease causes organ damage? Could they stave off more serious symptoms and provide people with a better quality of life? They are hoping that this study will be able to help fit these puzzle pieces together.

This study will be a collaborative effort nationwide. There may be more than half a million lupus patients and more than half will have been diagnosed before their 35th birthday. By crude estimates, it means that there are 300,000 people who got lupus in their 30s. If 70 percent have a sister that means that they have a population of 200,000 potential recruits for the study. They are ultimately looking to recruit 4,000 sisters. The plan is to also mine the genome to identify genes that put families at risk and start to link the various genes to the different symptoms of the disease.

The sisters who have anti-nuclear antibodies but no signs of disease will also help tell the story of how the body’s immune system fends off this autoimmune disease. Can they identify markers of progression to disease? Who will get lupus
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Sisters Helping Sisters: A New Lupus Research Study to Follow Sisters of Lupus Patients
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